Cape Town: Herschelle Gibbs has been involved in cricket's match-fixing scandal, was fined for smoking marijuana in the West Indies and put down a crucial catch that might have cost South Africa the 1999 World Cup. But Gibbs is one of his country's main hopes as it seeks to lift the 2003 trophy in its own country. Gibbs, 28, is a dashing stroke player who coach Eric Simons believes is in the same league as India's Sachin Tendulkar and West Indian star Brian Lara.
At the start of the season, Simons sat down with Gibbs to tell him how highly he rated him. The message seems to be getting through. Opening batsman Gibbs has reeled off five One-day International centuries, including a world record-equaling sequence of three in a row, since August. He has also hit two Test centuries, including 228 against Pakistan, and fell just short of a third when he was out for 92 against Sri Lanka. What's impressive about Gibbs is the way he makes his runs. He has a strike rate of more than 80 runs per 100 balls faced.
He hits a high percentage of boundaries. Gibbs was banned for six months for agreeing to an offer of $ 15,000 by Hansie Cronje to under-perform in a match in India in April 2000. He was saved from a possible life ban because he didn't go through with the deal. He was fined Rand 10,000 (about $ 1,000), together with five other members of the squad, for smoking marijuana while celebrating a Test series win over the West Indies in Antigua in 2001.
He dropped a simple catch off Australian captain Steve Waugh in a crucial World Cup match at Headingley, Leeds in 1999. Waugh, who was on 52, went on to make 120 not out and Australia won with two balls to spare. For Gibbs, though, all will be forgiven if he makes some big scores in the 2003 World Cup.